Indiana Conference Note Two

During the NDT Conference many questions came up which begged further explanations but time was short and everything couldn’t be pursued to its logical conclusion. So in order to tie up some loose ends, and because it can prove difficult to correlate the hands on practical work with the schematics of the model, I offer the following overview.

(1) All behavior is a function of emotion and all emotion is a function of attraction. (2) When emotion can’t flow to a state of complete and utter satisfaction, then stress is acquired. (3) Stress, the physical memory of emotion that failed to run to “ground” (emotional grounding is mediated by the hunger circuitry) must be triggered by an agency as intense as the agency which caused its formation. (4) The acquisition of stress as a physical memory of emotional experience begets a more complex form of attraction and motive, i.e. attraction to the “negative” in order to convert stress back into flow so that it can be resolved. This is how nature improves according to the Constructal law. (5) Stress becomes resolved if the subject and the triggering agency can interact so as to manifest an emotional wave pattern akin to running at full speed, which itself is an anatomical/muscular wave pattern moving through the body. The five core exercises—bite and carry—-barking—-rub-a-dub—-pushing—-collecting—activate and strengthen that wave function so that the dog perceives movement even when things aren’t moving, and even when its stress has been triggered by an agency of intensity that previously had elicited survival instincts. The most practical benefit of teaching heel, sit, down, stay, recall in terms of this wave pattern, is that lessons thus derived can be performed under duress because it emanates from the core, unlike other lessons that are acquired through fine motor manipulation, such as clicker training and dominance obedience training.

My method with each and every dog and no matter the context, is to trigger the dog’s physical memories of unresolved emotion and then work to smooth it into a pure wave function through the core exercises. When triggered, and then by not allowing old coping strategies the free range to exert themselves and dominate the dog’s range of responses, a dog will volunteer where it wants to be on the wave and how it is able to participate. The dog begins to feel in control of what is happening around it because this wave pattern is the very basis of its construct of reality and it feels an immediate payoff seeing the triggering agency responding in terms of the wave pattern. Some dogs might lie down, some might bark, some will jump up or grab with its jaws. My next move is to springboard off of whatever opening is being offered in order to amplify the wave that the dog is experiencing and which we can see building up within its body and then coursing through its movements. The core exercises; pushing–barking–bite and carry—rub-a-dub—collecting; are central in NDT methodology because each enhances a specific dynamic within the overall wave template. A wave is how two beings integrate, and integration is the only way unresolved emotion can be resolved.

That’s NDT in a nutshell and this can be tested by anyone willing to look at the  behavior of dogs (or any animal) with both an open mind, and while simultaneously resisting the urge to inject thoughts into what they’re observing.


Want to Learn More about Natural Dog Training?

Join the exclusive and interactive group that will allow you to ask questions and take part in discussions with the founder of the Natural Dog Training method, Kevin Behan.

Join over 65 Natural Dog trainers and owners, discussing hundreds of dog training topics with photos and videos!

We will cover such topics as natural puppy rearing, and how to properly develop your dog's drive and use it to create an emotional bond and achieve obedience as a result.

Create Your Account Today!

Published September 1, 2013 by Kevin Behan
Tags: , , , , , , ,

40 responses to “Indiana Conference Note Two”

  1. Joanne Frame says:

    Very helpful Kevin. I find it difficult to intuit (?) what the next move to springboard from should be, which you do so effortlessly 🙂 any advice?

  2. kbehan says:

    First of all, go easy on yourself as it took me many years to learn to resist my instincts and thoughts in how I responded to a dog. A good rule of thumb is to throw in a push-for-food at any point to convey to the dog that you are absorbing its stress and this keeps the flow going. This is a good way to initiate the wave-building process or to perk it back up when it begins to ebb. The other main thing is to recognize that shifts in our body weight and changes in our momentum back and forth indicate to the dog that its participation in the wave pattern is having an effect on us. If the dog feels that its shifts and its push affects how we move, then it feels safe, it can feel its “self” in how we move and it begins to let go more and more. As more and more of our pressure becomes enfolded into the growing wave action, the dog begins to let go of its deeper stress reserves and can ultimately get to that point of resolution. Keep on pushing!

  3. John says:

    So no matter what originally was the cause of the stress (human ,dog ,animal) it’s only the intensity of the triggering exercise is what matters , right and that differs depending on the temperament of each dog ,

    And what we want to illicit is a forward and direct response , what we might call aggressive (rage) coming out and by our actions thereafter we make the dog believe he’s in control,

    What I’m a wee bit confused about , are we then making the dog believe that acting direct or aggressively is the way to go , through us backing off when rage is shown??

  4. kbehan says:

    Excellent question. The answer is no (in contravention to learning theory) because when emotion and then unresolved emotion are encouraged to move freely, the principle of emotional conductivity always encodes for cooperation. This happens because when the handler absorbs the dog’s momentum, then pings it back to the dog so that the dog can learn to absorb it in turn, the dog begins to recognize its “self” in its handler. So just like tail chasing doesn’t lead to tail amputation, the dog can ultimately no more bite the handler that it learns to give its rage to (DIS) anymore than it can bite itself. Whereas when a dog doesn’t learn to release its DIS to its owner, that is where all the bites come from when it finally hits its overload point. If a dog doesn’t listen, or if it becomes violent, when at a state of 100% energization (which by definition means that the final burst of DIS is coming out) then it can’t feel what its owner is feeling in that state, i.e. it doesn’t recognize its self in its owner when DIS comes on line. This is why it’s so critical to understand an energy logic of behavior and how an animal constructs a sense of self as synonymous with a construct of reality, as opposed to the mainstream Time-centric learning theory of behavior.

    < >>

  5. joanne frame says:

    Thanks for the response Kevin, helpful and the the response to John’s question further confirms to me how much your model seems to mirror Carl Rogers Person-Centred therapy for people – where the counsellor accepts the client’s way of being in the world fully and the most difficult challenge to the client is considered the empathic challenge, where the client, by being fully accepted is invited to examine themselves! (well it makes sense to me anyway!)

  6. John says:

    Why is the carry relevant in the bite and carry exercise, and why not still have contact with the bite item so the dog can feel an input from the handler,
    I found years ago that a dog can still want feedback when walking with a ball in its mouth , the dog would turn back into me and I would use a couple of fingers to grip the ball while we walked along , its not a exercise I would advice but it seem to give us a connection??

  7. kbehan says:

    When a dog has something in its jaws, it is grounded, and if it’s running at full speed, then it’s processing everything it’s perceiving and experiencing in terms of a smooth wave function. (This for example is why deer love to run from predators. Their attraction to the predator is being converted into a smooth wave that makes them feel weightless. Hence no PTSD even after escaping from a predator’s clutches and they return post haste to grazing, i.e. emotional grounding.) So in the bite-carry we can expose the dog to more and more duress and he is converting it into flow (this is how I teach a police dog to love to fight the helper and to calmly let go when needed even after being severely provoked) and then it is very easy to convert bite/carry into push-of-war so that the dog is learning to overcome a great resistance through that same smooth wave function. Push-of-war becomes a very condensed form of bite and carry and even though the dog is heavily engaged with an extreme object-of-resistance (a human being fighting back), the exercise nonetheless leaves the dog with the feeling of weightlessness rather than weighted-ness of taking on friction it can’t move into the feeling of flow. So the bite and carry is training the dog to be able to hold onto a feeling of flow no-matter-what. No matter what the handler does, or what the world brings, it is all still a function of flow. Bite and carry is the essential skill of sociability and cooperation, i.e. importing objects of resistance into the configuration. Wolves aligned and in sync about the prey (the wild version of bite and carry) IS the social structure, the pack follows from this, not the other way around.

  8. Good stuff.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything you’ve written about “collecting.” What does that mean?

  9. kbehan says:

    Thanks Lee. It evolved out of the using the food hand as a prey about to take flight in order to train a dog to settle on the box, in conjunction with something I learned with my horses. About 15 years ago we had two horses who used to charge to the gate or across the field when they were out when I brought them their grain in the evening. I realized that I was setting myself up for a bad accident given that they were both running at full speed and jostling for position, and so I learned to use two buckets of grain to teach the lead horse (the one who vibrated the most intensely around food) to back up. To break his charge I would take the bucket in my left hand and extend it slightly behind his muzzle so that he had to back up a half step to stick his snout in, and then I withdrew that bucket and put the bucket in my right hand slightly behind his muzzle on his other side so again he had to back up a half step to stick his snout in. In this way I could back both him and the mare back about 20 yards from the gate before I put their grain buckets down for them to eat. It was really cool that in short order when they saw me approaching with the grain, they began to back up to get to their feeding stations and then would patiently wait there bobbing their heads and stomping the ground. Eventually I keyed it to the words; “get back.” I then began to use the backing up prey-hand-with-food-about-to-take-flight to teach dogs to back up in the heeling. I eventually realized that this was the equal/opposite to the pushing technique in that it was increasing the dog’s capacity to absorb another individual’s momentum because I began to notice that dogs who were good at being collected, began to interact much better with other dogs. A dog would run up to them and they would absorb this momentum and their tail would begin to wag. They weren’t feeling pressured but sensually energized. I believe this is because the exercise strengthens their subliminal beam of attention on their hind end and the enteric nervous system, which I consider to be the social brain and the instrument of emotional grounding. I borrowed the term from the horse world because apparently the essence of riding and jumping is to get one’s horse “collected.”

  10. “I then began to use the backing up prey-hand-with-food-about-to-take-flight to teach dogs to back up in the heeling.”

    That’s part of what you were doing in the video with Laszlo?

    If so, I still don’t think I have a clear picture of this. What you seem to be saying reminds me, in a way, of what Cesar Millan does when he forces dogs to back into a corner. Of course he doesn’t have food in his hand when he does it, but…

    I’d like to see a video of this if you have one.

  11. kbehan says:

    When you teach a dog to collect, he’s learning to focus his subliminal beam of attention harder and harder on his hind end (when a dog’s weight is back here he can pivot in any direction and this indicates to other dogs that such a dog can absorb their momentum because he’s poised to shift his center of gravity, hence such a body configuration is calming to other dogs—-this is for example what’s happening in the play bow, the dog is maximizing his preyful aspect with his butt in the air, i.e. he’s concentrating his energy on his hind end). So Cesar is just blocking with his body, and the positive aspect of the dog being magnetically guided away from him is supplied by the dog’s attraction to the food or toy he’s blocking him from. It’s an inadvertent and imprecise application of the principle, misinterpreted as part of the dominance over resource paradigm, but which will eventually degrade into an electrostatic like repulsion, rather than the dog being guided by a pure magnetic-like manipulation of its body/mind. I start on a box and simply deny the dog the food until it settles back on its hind end, most dogs will sit. Then I guide it into a down (suppling the shoulder blades as well) and then get to the collecting proper by going in and out along an axis before the dog’s snout, vibrating my hand with the food akin to a small bird about to take flight. The dog begins to focus more and more energy on its hind end trying to keep the “bird” from taking flight. (This is how a cat catches a mouse and why their tail involuntarily twitches when they’re on a stalk.) Eventually that can be channeled into backing up in heel on command. There’s some of that going on with Laszlo but wasn’t enough time to cement it, it seems that Jenya and Matt are concentrating on that now. I’m going to try to get some video together soon, I think Jean-Marie captured some in Indiana and we’re going to compile it into a concise manual so the step by step is clear.

  12. Steve Taylor says:


    As I said to you before, i have been working with my dog as you worked with Laslo on your youtube video. I’m using that in the dog park and I notice that when my dog and several others get a little carried away I immediately have Thor to lie down where he is. This does have a calming effect on the other dogs. He lies down faster when in a strong play mode. What a gift! Thank you.

  13. Skip Skipper says:

    Would this be the “collecting” video on youtube. The dog is Hero.

  14. Kevin: “I start on a box and simply deny the dog the food until it settles back on its hind end, most dogs will sit. Then I guide it into a down (suppling the shoulder blades as well) and then get to the collecting proper by going in and out along an axis before the dog’s snout, vibrating my hand with the food akin to a small bird about to take flight. The dog begins to focus more and more energy on its hind end trying to keep the “bird” from taking flight.”

    Okay, I think I get most of this, but I’m not sure what axis you’re talking about. Please forgive my ignorance. Are you going in and out as in forwards and backwards, parallel to the dog’s spinal column? Or back and forth in front of his face, at a perpendicular angle?

    The first makes more sense to me. I tried it that way with a little dachshund and it seemed to do something….

    Thanks for your input.

  15. boris says:

    Awesome. Thank you for laying out the circle in a linear fashion here for us left-brainers. Having only glimpsed the pieces of the process in disparate settings, it’s a great help to see how it all fits together. That being said, I’m not sure I could follow had I not seen it in action. Seeing the flow of the techniques in a cohesive treatment was invaluable. 

    Another step demonstrated in collecting was the “leading” (pulling?) with food prior to settling into down + vibrate and zing. Is this an integral precursor or an aid in getting a distracted dog tuned into the prey in your hand?  Wondering when to use this. 

    Also, when trying to collect a dog that has mastered the “eyes” exercise, when I vibrate and move the prey away, he instantly looks at me, and if that doesn’t bring the prey in, rather than noticeably shifting into the hind end, he will look away entirely to bring it in. I sense confusion here. Or is the dog already settled by the time he looks at the handler and should already have been zinged?

  16. kbehan says:

    Yes, that’s the very first step wherein the dog first works how that it’s most efficient to station itself on the rock, and then it begins to settle back (focus subliminal beam on hind end with increasing intensity) as its means of willing the food to it.

  17. kbehan says:

    Right, once the dog has a strong settling back on haunches impulse from the box work, you can go to the ground and again imitate with your food hand the bird about to take flight, the palm is open but the hand is quivering and occasionally darting away only to immediately return, and just like the Higgins video, the dog begins to settle back and drops into a down/pounce position. That axis I refer to is a straight line before the dog’s jaws, running as an extension off its eye-snout direction. Don’t move from side to side or up and down, move the food hand back and forth on this axis (can get a bit dizzying in the beginning.) Settling back into the down begets the backing up because that settling back shift in the dog can be captured by moving the food hand overhead and leaning one’s weight strategically and the dog will begin to back pedal and then he can get a zing for that. As the move gets more and more efficient, the dog can be brought tight into the handler’s side most especially by tight turns to the left and positioning the food hand over the dog’s head and slightly behind so as he looks up his butt will kick to his right bringing him in close to the handler’s side.

  18. Faith says:

    I love the idea of collection as it relates to dogs. It makes complete sense. I am a dressage rider, and in my opinion, the essence of a horse’s collection is the ultimate in relaxation and suppleness. I would go so far as to say it’s the ultimate “flow” for horse and rider. In addition to a quiet and balanced seat, one of the most important things I learned as a rider was to have soft hands. There is so much communication that goes on between horse and rider via reins in hand. You just cannot get good collection if you force it by pulling the horse into frame; this blocks the flow of energy! Throughness is very important, too – how a horse propels himself forward from the hind end. This shows relaxation and suppleness with engagement of the hind end. All important for flow!

    Interestingly, I learned better leash skills for tracking because of my dressage training. I began to understand how much energy I was sending through the leash when I was gripping it. I learned to soften my hands to get the dog to slow down (I didn’t block flow?). I even incorporated “half-halts”, which is basically just a gentle closing of the fist to maintain contact/communication. It seems to have worked so far!

  19. boris says:

    “Settling back into the down begets the backing up because that settling back shift in the dog can be captured by moving the food hand overhead and leaning one’s weight strategically and the dog will begin to back pedal and then he can get a zing for that”

    So if i understand correctly, if the dog easily goes down at the sight of your “hand bird” (or in anticipation of it) and looks at you, then the next step is to move the hand further to get a back pedal right away, and then turn that into tight turns at your side, and then eventually pull that into a heel (as in your YouTube videos)? Plus hup/push if the dog is disconnecting?

  20. kbehan says:

    Right, as the dog anticipates going down while being lured forward by the “bird hand” he will have to rock back to arrest his forward momentum in order to collect himself into the down. Right as he rocks back you move the “bird hand” right back in front of his snout so as to maintain a close proximity to his snout (there’s a sweet spot where it will not be close enough for him to want to grab, but close enough where he gets the feeling that his rocking back is pulling it in closer. And then at the same time as you can see it click that his rocking back is what is willing the “bird” to come closer, if the “bird” were to slightly float over his eyes then his looking up will really get him collected, and in conjunction with this the handler can lean in toward the dog as in making a left turn, the dog will be further motivated to kick his hind end into the side of the handler in conjunction with his back pedaling. (I should add that prior to this the handler can practice leaning in and left turning by making a left turn while dog is eating from the hand, independent from working on extending the collecting action into back pedaling. Then the dog will learn to pivot his hind end in order to keep snout immersed in the feeding hand.) And right, if the dog gets disconnected, revert to a push to sustain drive.

  21. I’ve attempted this a few times. I’m pretty sure I don’t have all the moves down correctly, but there’s been a significant shift in this little dachshund’s behavior. For one thing he played fetch with me outdoors today for the first time. He even played fetch at the dog run, where he usually sniffs the perimeter or perches underneath whatever bench I’m sitting on. I have never seen him do either before.


  22. Stephen Barker says:

    Since coming across ‘Your dog is your mirror’ and subsequently buying ‘Natural dog training’ I have been able to help a number of dogs here in LA that I could not have helped in the past even with my limited understanding of NDT.

    In many cases these dogs have been through various trainers and behaviorists without any success and often as not I find myself working with the humans as much as the dog using the ‘your dog is your mirror’ approach.

    I sometimes get a little lost in the language of some of the posts but this one has been really helpful in terms of me being able to more effectively articulate to people what NDT is all about.

    Kevin can you say a little more about what ‘rub a dub’ involves and what effect it has on the dog

  23. Does collecting tend to increase a “picky” dog’s appetite? If so, what do you think the mechanism for that is?

  24. kbehan says:

    I would imagine it would, but since I do collecting in conjunction with other things can’t say in particular. Nonetheless I believe that in collection a dog gets a special feeling that he can will something positive to him by precisely focusing his subliminal beam of attention on his deep gut. The subliminal beam focuses on muscle tension (which is configured around the p-cog in order to move the body, and so becomes synonymous with the p-cog and the object of attraction), and so with the perception of the preyful aspect of the food hand, there is a feeling of release. I would suspect that the actual mechanism would be the release of natural opiates by this focal beam, that Dr. Pert showed are housed in every tissue of the body. So with the release of these opiates and the feeling of magically willing things into its stomach, the hunger would be amplified in conjunction with the strengthening sense of the subliminal beam of attention. I would conjecture therefore that the dog feels he can release tension by being hungry.

  25. Kevin: “since I do collecting in conjunction with other things can’t say in particular.”

    Good point. There are a number of changes going on with this dog, the one under discussion here is that whereas before he’d walk over, sniff his dinner bowl and walk a away, he now dances around it in happy anticipation while I’m preparing a meal. Then when he’s finished eating he starts nudging the bowl as if asking for “more, please…” So that’s why asked about the hunger circuits.

    But there are a lot more things going on which suggest to me that this exercise may be extremely beneficial for dogs with PTSD. And I’m wondering what the corollary would be for people suffering from the same condition.

  26. Josh D says:

    I was in a situation with a few dogs this last weekend and one “picky eater” started to show some interest in food from my hand by the end of the weekend. This dog is never interested in food/treats what-have-you and I think her owner was pretty amazed. I didn’t get her to really collect herself but she did get to see the preyful whisking of the food hand and the whisk with other dogs. I think in my case it may have just been from the preyful aspect of the flitting hand. Not quite the same Lee, but perhaps it was an extension of the picky eater picking up on more of the preyful aspect in you?

  27. I’ve been doing the exercise (while learning it) with several different dogs. I found that the younger the dogs are, generally speaking, the easier it is for them to learn how to collect, and the more effect it seems to have overall.

    So how old was the picky eater you were doing it with? Just curious…

  28. Josh D says:

    She is 2.5 years old I believe. Can’t deal with humans that have much of a predatory aspect. Preyful things send her into a tizzy. I suggested that the owners try fasting her and feeding her around the house cat that sets her off but I don’t think they’ve tried yet. Interestingly a therapist suggested an exercise which sounded like collecting when she starts to get brittle around strangers.

  29. C says:

    I wasn’t sure where to post this. I have a new rescue dog, a working farm bred sheepdog. I got her two months ago at about 6 mths of age, although she may be a few months older.

    Her crate is in the quietest room of the house. When in her crate, if I come into the room and sit at my computer or do paperwork or make a phone call in that room she barks. I think that the reason for this is my focus/attention on an object is throwing her off balance, but she is physically held back so barks.

    I also have a little child and we all go on long forest walks daily. (For the most part I have little to do with her on walks, and also at home too – to try to let her settle in.) But sometimes if I am interacting a lot with my kid on the walk, she goes bite mad/crazy on sticks and bushes around us. I think this is again the same problem as the crate.

    The barking in her crate is a problem for me at the moment, because I have to focus on jobs when my kid is asleep – of course! I would normally ignore her barking but it can and often does wake him.

    However, my question is, are these the same problems? And is this about balance? And if so, is this something that the box work will help with? I have so far done pushing, and we have done some box work. But I’m not doing a lot.

  30. Kevin Behan says:

    You’re exactly right about being knocked off balance. Anytime the rate of stimulation exceeds the dog’s emotional capacity in any moment they feel knocked off balance so this is what’s happening in both scenarios. Box training will teach her to be quiet and then she can be out of the crate and on her box to learn how to self-settle. In the meantime it would be helpful to have another crate in another room when you’re working on your computer to simply bypass the problem while she’s in remediation phase of “owner addiction syndrome.”

  31. C says:

    Thank you. We’ll just keep on building the box work. And I do have another crate. Out on walks though, if I have the hands free to do so, I praise her and then she normally pushes. But sometimes I have to let her just take it out on the vegetation. She has been known to uproot a bush entirely! I’m not sure what else I can do out walking?

  32. Kevin Behan says:

    Taking it out on the vegetation is an expression of frustration. The good part is that the frustration is at the surface. But the negative consequence is that she’s not learning to deal with this pent up energy directly and therefore calmly. Were she to bite the toy that you possess, would be acting Direct, and carrying it by your side as you walk (or at first run) is a calm expression of same, so it’s important that you attract and then channel that energy into a ground of your choosing so that she has an opportunity for this state of frustration to hit the emotional “stop signal.”

  33. C says:

    So in these and other situations the dog is losing balance – through the owner concentrating on something, owner coming home, noises outside the house or children running around in the garden. As the dog feels falling forward they need to bite. So either get them to bite and hold the toy you have, or you give them somewhere (box) to maintain their balance?

  34. Kevin Behan says:

    Right, a stimulus disturbs emotional equilibrium, which a dog equates with physical equilibrium, and so the more intense the stimulation, the more intense the sense of being knocked off balance, i.e. accelerated, and the oral urge is the primary means of grounding and bringing the organism back to stasis. But due to sensual makeup of dog this can elaborate into a physical tactile appetite as well, which is why a pat, and by extension verbal praise, can be calming as well. The box gives the dog a physical means of self-stabilizing the balance circuitry and feeling in control of the force that the stimulus exerted on his body/mind.

  35. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Kevin, After I collect with the fluttering hand with treat and the dog goes down nicely, I flutter away and in, why is the dog barking before he receives the treat?

  36. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Kevin, after I flutter with a treat, the dog goes down great. But as I flutter, the dog barks. Why the bark?

  37. Kevin Behan says:

    The barking to overcome resistance is bleeding into the collecting exercise, and so you have to make a stronger move to bring the food hand to the dog so that going away is more strongly associated with bringing the food in. It’s like pulling a child toward you on a swing in order to let them go at a high speed. So as the food hand goes away, there is an arc to the movement of your hand and then it shoots quicker to the dog’s mouth. Also, minimize the flutter movement, should be an almost imperceptible quiver, the main thing to inhibit the bark is the rush to the mouth move on the downward arc. Trust this is clear.

  38. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Very clear. Thank you.

  39. […] Behan. 2013. Indiana Conference Note Two. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed November […]

Leave a Reply